My Guitar Story: Scott Holiday’s “new number one” Gretsch Penguin

The Grammy-nominated guitarist reveals how the Stephen Stern-built guitar has become the main instrument in his arsenal of strikingly cool guitars.

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Released in 2011, Pressure & Time was Rival Sons sophomore album and subsequently the record that cemented them as one of the most exciting new voices in rock music. The title track is still a mainstay of the band’s live repertoire, due in part to guitarist Scott Holiday’s rootsy main riff that circles around a Jimmy Page-inspired refrain.

The guitar used throughout the recording process of that album was a Gretsch Penguin, which has now become a key part of his live rig. “This is a less familiar guitar than a lot of people know me with, but this is pretty much the exact guitar I used to record ‘Pressure & Time’ and most of the songs on it [the album],” Holiday reveals.

Featuring a chambered body, a Gretsch-branded Bigsby tailpiece, and three Filter’Tron pickups, this Custom Shop iteration was built by none other than master luthier Stephen Stern and has been in Holiday’s possession for around four years, becoming a mainstay of his touring guitars.

More familiar to fans of the band is the Long Beach musician’s 1999 Custom Historic Pelham Blue Firebird. “After recording our first record… I decided to use not a Strat or a Les Paul or something typical and found this guitar,” he says. The customary Firebird pickups have been rewound, the caps have been replaced as have the tuners, but otherwise it’s as original as the day it left the factory.

Finally, Holiday shows us another guitar heard on Pressure & Time, which he admits is his “number two” guitar, a 1962 Fender Jazzmaster. The guitar is all original apart from — perhaps surprisingly — the pickups, which have been replaced with Lollar Jazzmaster-sized P-90s. Although he does concede that it “may be sacrilegious to a lot of people”.

Throughout the video Holiday details which songs feature the three guitars and the custom specs that suit his playing styles, wants and needs.

This is Scott Holiday’s guitar story.

Rival Sons are touring the UK throughout June and July to celebrate the anniversary of Pressure & Time.

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